As a child, I was a lovely little dancer (although I know you don’t believe that after witnessing my daily dance parties) with a penchant for tutus, tap shoes and jazz hands. It was my thing. My oldest sister was the smart one, middle sister was the athletic one, and I was the artistic one. Dancing suited me well.*
And although I adored the performance and spotlight of it all, my very favorite aspect of dancing was the county fair parade float I was allowed to ride atop every summer, representing a small crop of future toe-touching guys and dolls across America. There was something so magical about the Dum-Dums we’d throw, the glitter we’d bear and the princess waves we’d perfect. Yes, tiaras were involved, and yes I loved every second of it all.
Until one cloudy morning in July. I was in 2nd grade and had just finished hiking up my sparkling pantyhose when the thunder began rolling in. It was parade day, and I knew what rain meant: no spotlight until next summer. No Dum-Dums, no glitter. And certainly no princess waves.
My mother and I hurried off to the park to meet my fellow float-riders, yet were greeted with grim faces and crying children. I heard remnants of the conversation held between my dance instructor and the parade coordinator: “Looks like a doozy… bad turnout… head home.”
I remember being devastated until my dance instructor knelt down in front of me with a glimmer of hope in her eye. “How would you like to throw your own parade?” I nodded furiously, and after gathering umbrellas, raincoats and tarp, my fellow dancers and I hopped into the back of her pick-up truck and princess waved all through the town.
It poured. We were soaked, glitter running down our cheeks and tulle socks collecting mud. And it was one of my favorite childhood memories to date.
Sure, our parade was rained on. The festivities were canceled, overshadowed by plans that were out of our control. Yet it was still our parade. We were still celebrating our youth, our vigor. Our zest.
I want to be that dance instructor. I want to face unexpected situations with celebratory zeal and laugh in the face of clouded plans. I want to bear my bright yellow galoshes and dance atop my summer parade float, throwing Dum-Dums to no one in particular.
Because it is, after all, our parade.
*Plus, I had to don dresses as a way to make up for my serious lack of hair.